Emergence of the Distributed Workforce Share Tools for the traveling sales force. Business operations for many of today's companies have spread far beyond the four walls of the 'main office'. Innovative strategies that leverage the latest technology have created a prolific trend toward small and medium-sized businesses with multiple locations and a widely-dispersed workforce. From remote employees that work in a home office to "road warrior" executives and a traveling sales force, today's small and mid-sized business can literally extend it's presence globally, establish multiple locations to serve local markets, and tap into a wider labor pool to attract the most talented employees nationwide. The question: How does your business create the technological foundation to prepare itself to take advantage of this opportunity? The Distributed Workforce The trend toward a "distributed workforce" holds tremendously positive implications for small and mid-sized companies. In the past, managing multiple offices, warehouses, remote employees and tapping into opportunity beyond the local business community was better left to large enterprise with deep pockets. But today's small business can operate just like a large company while at the same time remain nimble and keep overhead costs in check. Communications and Access to Information are two of the most important aspects of successfully decentralizing operations. The ability to operate as if everyone was in the same office with access to the same information, anywhere and anytime, is a key component of leveraging the benefit of a mobile or distributed workforce. A Quick Note About Communications Just like email that reaches its recipient regardless of where he or she is located, your telephone communications infrastructure must make it easy for customers and vendors to reach the intended contact within your company. Web-based Virtual Phone systems and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provides technology that can easily route incoming calls to a home office or mobile phone just about anywhere in the world...a task that is tremendously more difficult with an older land line telephone system. The cost of internet telephony is often significantly less expensive than traditional phone lines, offers a wider range of features, and requires minimal equipment. Most importantly to your customers, it appears as if they are calling your main office and are seamlessly routed to the appropriate personnel within your company...wherever they may be located. Access to Information With multiple locations, remote employees, field service personnel and a sales force that is perpetually on the road, quick and easy access to information in your business system becomes vitally important to ensure that those remote and/or mobile employees remain efficient and productive. Your Sage 100 system is built on technology that will support this objective. There are a variety of solutions and options for configuring your Sage 100 system for remote access. One of the keys in deciding how to best support your endeavor to provide timely access to important information is to classify members of your remote workforce in one of two categories: full-time operators and part-time users. Full-Time Operators There are employees, such as Accounting Department personnel, that are trained on the system, process transactions regularly, and require access to the full set of features within Sage 100. These folks are basically running Sage 100 remotely as if they were sitting at a desk in the office. A few of the options for enabling full remote access to Sage 100 include a Virtual Private Network (VPN), Microsoft Terminal Server, and GoToMyPC (Click Here to learn about GoToMyPC for Sage customers). Beyond your Sage 100 system, these remote solutions can also provide access to other applications such as email, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc. Of course all of these solutions offer the security of password protection and encrypted data. Part-Time Users The needs of part-time users can vary, but essentially these folks need only occasional access to Sage 100 to run a report, for example, or check a customer's credit history before placing an order. To distinguish from full-time operators, part-time users are not heavy transaction processors and typically only need to reference information (like inventory levels or customer history) prior to making a decision in the field or on the road. Although occasionally this group may enter data into the system. An example might be a project-based company that collects time and expense data from employees in the field. Those field-based employees may only need access to a web-based time and expense entry application that integrates with Sage 100 in the back office. For your traveling/remote sales force, Sage CRM solutions offer mobility features that provide real-time information about customers, inventory, shipping status and open orders directly to a Smartphone, wireless mobile device or PDA. And in the case of busy executives who are often away from the office, Business Alerts (delivered via email) can ensure that they stay on top of key metrics that monitor the financial health of operations. Today's technology offers tremendous opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses to improve connectivity amount remote staff, increase effectiveness of sales teams and globe-trotting executives, and improve efficiency of personnel at a remote office or warehouse so that your business can be anywhere and everywhere...just like big enterprise! 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